Category Archives: United States.

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse (1893).

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, September 14 2017.

Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, Chicago, Illinois.

Known as the “Chicago Light,” the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse is an active automated lighthouse that stands to the north of the Chicago Harbor main entrance about one-half mile beyond the end of Navy Pier. This Lighthouse played a significant role in the development of Chicago and remains an active aid to nautical navigation. For more than a century the U.S. Coast Guard staffed this vital lighthouse at the breakwater outside the Chicago Harbor Lock that separates the mouth of the Chicago River from Lake Michigan. The lock, built in the mid-1930’s, is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is one of two entrances into the Illinois Waterway system at the Great Lakes. That system provides a commercial and recreational shipping connection to the Gulf of Mexico by way of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. The Chicago Light starts (or ends) that adventure as it sits in the outer harbor that was constructed in 1880. Through the breakwaters the main entrance into Chicago Harbor is 580 feet wide. The Chicago Light’s conical tower dates from 1893. Twenty-five years later the base building (a fog-signal room and boathouse) was constructed and the tower was reconstructed. The architect is not identified. It was designated a Chicago Landmark on April 9, 2003. The Chicago Harbor Lighthouse is the only surviving lighthouse in Chicago and one of only two remaining examples in Illinois.

SOURCES:

The Chicago River: an illustrated history and guide to the river and its waterways, David M. Solzman, Wild Onion Books, Chicago, 1998, pp.126-128.

Chicago Landmarks Map [Brochure], City of Chicago, 2006.

https://web.archive.org/web/20070410173708/http://www.ci.chi.il.us/Landmarks/C/ChicagoHarborLighthouse.html – retrieved December 2, 2017.

©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

Hollywood Color Portraits: Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor & Lana Turner.

Text by John P. Walsh.

Marlene Dietrich, 1947.

Marlene Dietrich. Paramount, 1947. Photograph by A.L. “Whitey” Schafer.

MARLENE DIETRICH: This Hollywood glamour portrait of forty-six-year-old Marlene Dietrich (1901, Berlin – 1992, Paris) wearing a green turtleneck sweater was taken when the movie actress was starring in Golden Earrings, a romantic spy film made by Paramount Pictures. It was her comeback film following World War II. It was in 1947—the same year that this photograph by A.L. “Whitey” Schafer was made— that Dietrich received what she called her life’s proudest achievement: the Medal of Freedom. While Golden Earrings was a decent film, its main purpose was to provide the actress with a job. Further, it would lead into her next project—the 1948 American romantic comedy A Foreign Affair directed by Billy Wilder—which made Dietrich once again a top star. Following Dietrich’s meteoric rise at Paramount Pictures starting in 1930 her acting parts later stagnated as film directors —including Josef von Sternberg and others—seemed to use her more as a piece of expensive cinematic scenery than as a serious dramatic actress. Like other leading ladies of the time, the Hollywood glamour machine in the 1940’s transformed Dietrich into a golden-haloed blond which accentuated her magnificent cheekbones and sultry eyes under penciled-arc eyebrows and painted nails that this color portrait makes evident. Photographer A. L. “Whitey” Schafer (1902-1951) was a longtime still photographer who started shooting stills in 1923 and continued in that line of work at Columbia Pictures when he moved there in 1932. Personally outgoing, he was appointed head of the stills photography department at Columbia three years later. In the 1940’s Shafer wrote copiously on his craft and advocated for techniques in glamour photography that are seen in this Dietrich color portrait. In 1941 he published Portraiture Simplified, a book in which he argues that “portraiture’s purpose is the realization of character realistically.” Among his technical observations Shafer wrote elsewhere that “composing a portrait is comparable to writing a symphony. There must be a center of interest, and in all portraits this naturally must be the head, or your purpose is defeated. Therefore, the highest light should be on the head.” It was in 1941 that Schafer replaced Eugene Richee (1896-1972) as department head of still photography at Paramount Studios. Shafer remained in that position where he photographed the stars until he died at 49 years old in an accident in 1951.

Elizabeth TAYLOR 1949

Elizabeth Taylor. MGM, 1949. Photograph by Hymie Fink.

ELIZABETH TAYLOR: Though still a teenager, by 1949 when this photograph was made Elizabeth Taylor (1932, London-2011, Los Angeles) was celebrated as her up-and-coming generation’s great beauty.  Elizabeth debuted in films in 1942 at ten years old and it seemed her life and beauty blossomed in front of the cameras. This photograph captures her near the beginning of her cinematic career as an MGM star and later two-time Oscar winner. Who exactly was her photographer Hymie Fink? His identity remains a small mystery. Was Hymie Fink a studio photographer? Freelancer? Pseudonym for an unknown talent or combination of unknown talents? His name appears from time to time among the stars starting in the late 1930’s until his death was announced by Hedda Hopper in the mid-1950’s. The gossip columnist ended her newspaper column for September 28, 1956 with this epitaph: “Hymie Fink, one of the sweetest men in Hollywood, died of a heart attack on Jane Wyman’s TV set. Hymie photographed every star and every major event in (Hollywood) for twenty-five years.”

Lana Turner. 1939.

Lana Turner. 1939, photograph by László Willinger.

LANA TURNER: Before she became in the 1940’s the well-known Hollywood platinum sensuous blond of movie legend and fame, Lana Turner (1921-1995) was just a pretty redhead from Idaho named Julia Jean Turner. By the time this color portrait was made (it is not retouched) a 18-year-old Lana Turner had been discovered three years earlier in a manner that has made it into the annals of show-biz mythology. The immediate result of her discovery in a Hollywood malt shop was a movie contract with producer-director Mervyn LeRoy (1900-1987). The title of Lana’s first film in 1937 for Warner Brothers proved prescient for her career: They Won’t Forget. In her debut in this courtroom drama, pretty 16-year-old Lana Turner played a five-minute part where her appearance on screen strutting in a tight-fitting sweater and cocked beret created such a stir among audiences that Hollywood began to figure it had a full-budding sex symbol on its hands. Walter Winchell coined the term “America’s Sweater sweetheart” for Lana Turner because of her appearance in about twenty seconds of celluloid flickering onto movie screens in dark theaters throughout America that year. Over the next two decades there would be a long line of Hollywood actresses who throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s wore tight sweaters over specialty bras to emphasize their bust line for appreciating admirers. In 1938 Lana moved with LeRoy to MGM where she stayed to make 44 mostly glamorous films until the early 1960’s. She became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Originally groomed to be a new Harlow, Lana followed this sex-bomb course in full force when in 1941 the studio dyed her hair white blonde for Ziegfeld Girl, where she co-starred with Judy Garland and Hedy Lamarr and stole the show. Hungarian-born photographer László Willinger (1909 – 1989) started his professional career in Vienna, Austria, but left Europe for America in 1937. He joined MGM that same year and soon made this lush shot of 18-year-old Lana Turner in a silky green dress seated on a red divan or chair with her head turned and slightly bloodshot eyes looking to one side. Willinger’s color portrait of red-headed Lana Turner emphasizes the sensuality of her personality manifested in her full red sensuous lips and painted nails. László Willinger left MGM in 1944 and established his own photography studio in Hollywood where for the next 40 years he successfully practiced his craft. About her own reputedly rowdy personal life in those MGM years Lana Turner later remarked: “My plan was to have one husband and seven children, but it turned out the other way…” 

SOURCES:

DIETRICH – “Miss Dietrich to Receive Medal,” The New York Times, November 18, 1947;
https://ladailymirror.com/2013/11/04/mary-mallory-hollywood-heights-mdash-a-l-whitey-schafer-simplifies-portraits/;
http://vintagemoviestarphotos.blogspot.com/2014/11/a-l-whitey-schafer.html;
They Had Faces Then. Annabella to Zorina: The Superstars, Stars and Starlets of the 1930’s, John D. Springer and Jack D. Hamilton, Citadel Press, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1974.
Hollywood Color Portraits, John Kobal, William Morrow and Company. Inc., New York, 1981.
https://www.aenigma-images.com/2017/04/a-l-whitey-schafer/

TAYLOR -http://tatteredandlostephemera.blogspot.com/2009/06/who-is-hymie-fink.html;
http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1956/09/29/page/22/article/diana-dors-isnt-homesick-shes-set-for-film-in-britain;
Hollywood Color Portraits, John Kobal, William Morrow and Company. Inc., New York, 1981.

TURNER – Hollywood Color Portraits, John Kobal, William Morrow and Company. Inc., New York, 1981.
Lana Turner interview with Phil Donahue, 1982 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhu6_V7pNL0
“Hollywood Photographer Dies,” The Hour, Associated Press, August 9, 1989 – https://news.google.com/newspapers nid=1916&dat=19890814&id=azIiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=uXQFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1804,2177679

©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by an means, electronic  or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

Dane Arden (Elsa Sørensen), Vintage Danish Model.

By John P. Walsh

Dane Arden was an international magazine model in the 1950s and 1960s. She was born Elsa Sørensen on March 25, 1934 in Copenhagen, Denmark, and, after she won the title of Miss Denmark as a teenager went with her family to live in Vancouver, Canada. Her debut in the September 1956 issue of Playboy magazine gave her much publicity and she went on to appear multiple times in that American men’s entertainment and lifestyle publication. Dane Arden also modeled for magazines such as the U.S. version of Australia’s Adam magazine. Elsa moved to Los Angeles, married twice, and died on April 18, 2013 at age 79 years following complications from a bicycle accident in Vero Beach, Florida.

In one of my favorite non-nude color photographs of Dane Arden—this from 1956, the time of her Playboy shoot—22-year-old Dane Arden expresses her beauty, physical dynamism and engaging personality as she poses as a carhop bringing fast food to people in their cars at drive-in restaurants. Working carhops first appeared in the early 1920’s along expanding and popular interstate roads and were mostly boys and men. But during and after World War II the role was increasingly performed by women. By the mid 1950’s abundant drive-ins had to compete for customers in fast-moving automobiles and so carhop uniforms were eye catching. Uniforms on busy roads would be often creatively thematic with military, airline, space age, and cheerleader uniforms predominating. In this photograph Dane Arden is an especially alluring carhop who wears a skimpy plaid-patterned matching fringed halter top and short shorts with fringed apron cut to size. Wearing the typical flat shoes and head gear worn by many female car hops at the time, Dane Arden proffers the perfect uniform to greet her customers with their cups of hot coffee.

Dane Arden, 1956.

Dane Arden (Elsa Sørensen) in 1956 in special carhop uniform.

This fifteen-minute color documentary was made at the legendary Keller’s Drive In in Dallas, Texas in the mid 1970’s. Their original location which opened in 1950 closed in 2000 and today the oldest restaurant in the chain is on Northwest Highway in Dallas. It opened in 1955. Two other Keller’s restaurants are on Garland Road and Harry Hines Boulevard. Keller’s Drive In remains a classic spot to enjoy a no-frills burger and ice cold beer. Founder Jack Keller —who once worked at Kirby’s Pig Stand which became the nation’s first drive-in restaurant empire—died in 2016 at 88 years old. This documentary is about carhops past and present (one waitress who started at Keller’s in 1965 still works there today) as well as the American Graffiti-style drive-in culture, all of which once filled America’s roads from coast to coast.

Part 1:

Part 2:

SOURCES:
Dane Arden biography – Lentz III, Harris M., Obituaries in the Performing Arts, McFarland, 2013 and http://www.pulpinternational.com/pulp/entry/1960-photo-of-Danish-model-Elsa-Sorensen-aka-Dane-Arden.html (retrieved Aug. 28, 2017); women carhops – Koutsky, Kathryn Strand, Koutsky, Linda, and Ostman, Eleanor, Minnesota Eats Out: An Illustrated History, Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2003, p. 134; history of carhops – http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/last-day-for-texas-celebrated-drive-in-pig-stands (retrieved Aug. 28, 2017); Keller’s – http://res.dallasnews.com/interactives/kellers/ published on March 18, 2015 and http://www.dallasobserver.com/restaurants/the-man-who-brought-us-one-of-dallas-greatest-burgers-has-died-8271874 (retrieved Aug. 28, 2017).

©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by an means, electronic  or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.